Police: Man jailed after child finds loaded gun, shoots self in finger

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Jan. 20—A Johnstown man was jailed on Wednesday after a 5-year-old boy found a loaded handgun and shot himself in the finger, authorities said.

Melvin Nelson Jr., 38, of the 700 block of Linden Avenue, was charged with endangering the welfare of children and illegally possessing a firearm.

Stonycreek Township police filed the charges following an incident on Woodland Avenue in Lorain Borough last month.

According to a criminal complaint, police determined that a woman kept an unloaded 9mm semiautomatic pistol in a locked safe in her bedroom.

They allege that Nelson had the combination and unlocked the safe, removing the pistol, after the woman had left for work on Dec. 31. Nelson allegedly then left the house, leaving the loaded gun where three children could have access, the complaint said.

The 5-year-old boy found the gun and shot himself in the the left index finger, the complaint said.

Nelson, who was at a neighbor's house, said he was unaware of the shooting until he saw an ambulance arrive. The child was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on Franklin Street for surgery.

When the woman returned home, she found the gun on the bed with bloodstains on the comforter and bullet holes in the pillow and wall, the complaint said.

Police said that Nelson cannot legally possess a firearm after pleading guilty in 2006 to felony criminal trespass in Philadelphia.

Nelson also pleaded guilty in 2020 in Cambria County court to a misdemeanor charge of simple assault. He was accused of strangling a woman at Solomon Homes and threatening her with a knife in the presence of a small child.

Nelson was arraigned by District Judge Michael Musulin, of Johnstown, and sent to Cambria County Prison in Ebensburg after failing to post 10% of $50,000 bond.